Invasive Species Compendium

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Datasheet

Percnon gibbesi
(sally lightfoot crab)

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Datasheet

Percnon gibbesi (sally lightfoot crab)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 20 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Percnon gibbesi
  • Preferred Common Name
  • sally lightfoot crab
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Crustacea
  •         Class: Malacostraca
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • P. gibbesi is the most invasive decapod crustacean to have entered the Mediterranean Sea. The vessel-transported crab was first recorded in 1999 from the Balearic Islands and Sicily,...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Percnon gibbesi (sally lightfoot crab); adult. Linosa, Sicily. Jul 2009.
TitleAdult
CaptionPercnon gibbesi (sally lightfoot crab); adult. Linosa, Sicily. Jul 2009.
Copyright©tato grasso/via wikipdia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Percnon gibbesi (sally lightfoot crab); adult. Linosa, Sicily. Jul 2009.
AdultPercnon gibbesi (sally lightfoot crab); adult. Linosa, Sicily. Jul 2009.©tato grasso/via wikipdia - CC BY-SA 3.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Percnon gibbesi (H. Milne Edwards, 1853)

Preferred Common Name

  • sally lightfoot crab

International Common Names

  • English: nimble spray crab

Summary of Invasiveness

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P. gibbesi is the most invasive decapod crustacean to have entered the Mediterranean Sea. The vessel-transported crab was first recorded in 1999 from the Balearic Islands and Sicily, and has since spread to the Tyrrhenian and Ionian coasts of Italy, and eastwards to Turkey and Libya. Everywhere it has formed thriving high-density populations in an amazingly short space of time. Habitat overlap was noted with the native grapsid Pachygrapsus marmoratus and the pebble crab Eriphia verrucosa. Its distribution patterns may suggest a spatial resource partitioning and exclusion of native crab species.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Crustacea
  •                 Class: Malacostraca
  •                     Subclass: Eumalacostraca
  •                         Order: Decapoda
  •                             Suborder: Reptantia
  •                                 Unknown: Grapsidoidea
  •                                     Family: Grapsidae
  •                                         Genus: Percnon
  •                                             Species: Percnon gibbesi

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The genus Percnon Gistel, 1848 (family Plagusiidae Dana, 1851) is accepted as containing 6 species (Ng et al., 2008), five of which are Indo-Pacific, and Percnon gibbesi alone having an amphi-American distribution, on the west coast from California to Chile and on the east coast from Florida to Brazil; and in the east Atlantic from Portugal, Madeira to the Gulf of Guinea (Manning and Holthuis, 1981; d’Udekem d’Acoz, 1999). Recent evidence have suggested that Percnon has many unique generic apomorphies and therefore was placed by Ng et al. (2008) in a separate subfamily, Percninae Števcic, 2005 within the Plagusiidae Dana, 1851.

Description

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Carapace slim, disc-like, covered with short bristles except for raised bare patches. Front deeply cut by antennular furrows, interantennular margin armed with two erect spines distally and a row of inconspicuous spinules. Eyes large, reniform. Inner margin of orbit bearing three spines, two distal spines prominent; upper orbital margin medially serrate. Antero-lateral margins of carapace with four acute teeth. Chelipeds varying in size with age and sex, small in females, large and unequal in adult males; merus and carpus spinose; palm nearly smooth, oval; small pilose area proximally on inner surface and pilose groove proximally on upper surface; fingers short, blunt, with concave tips. Meral article of each walking leg with large uniform spines on anterior margin; posterior margin ending in a distal spine (Williams, 1965).

Carapace length to 3.7 cm. The colour in life is mottled greenish brown above; a median longitudinal stripe of white or pale blue; legs banded in golden yellow rings; eyestalks and chelae orange; ventral side pale.

Distribution

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P. gibbesi is native to the Pacific (California to Chile) and Atlantic (Florida to Brazil) coasts of the Americas, and the Atlantic coast of Africa (Madeira, the Azores, the Cape Verde Islands and the coast of Africa from Morocco to Ghana and offshore islands in the Gulf of Guinea) (Manning and Holthuis, 1981). For introduced range see History of Introduction and Spread.

 

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Sea Areas

Atlantic, Eastern CentralPresentNativeManning and Holthuis, 1981
Atlantic, SouthwestPresentNativeManning and Holthuis, 1981
Atlantic, Western CentralPresentNativeManning and Holthuis, 1981
Pacific, Eastern CentralPresentNativeManning and Holthuis, 1981
Pacific, Western CentralPresentNativeManning and Holthuis, 1981

Asia

TurkeyWidespreadIntroduced2005 Invasive Yokes and Galil, 2006Observed Uc Adelar and Kas-Antalya

Africa

LibyaWidespreadIntroduced2004 Invasive Elkrwe et al., 2008Al Haniya

Europe

GreeceWidespreadIntroduced2005 Invasive Cannicci et al., 2006; Thessalou-Legaki et al., 2006Anitkythira, Xerocampus, Crete
ItalyWidespreadIntroduced1999 Invasive Relini et al., 2000; Pipitone et al., 2001; Mori and Vacchi, 2002; Cannicci et al., 2004; Russo and Villani, 2005First recorded in the Mediterranean - Linosa Island in the Straits of Sicily.
MaltaWidespreadIntroduced2001 Invasive Borg and Attard-Montalto, 2002
SpainWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Müller, 2001; Deudero et al., 2005Dragonera and Es Pantaleu islands - southwest of Mallorca.

History of Introduction and Spread

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P. gibbesi was first collected in the Mediterranean Sea in 1999 where it appeared concurrently in Ibiza, Spain (Müller, 2001) and two locations in Italy: Linosa Island in the Straits of Sicily (Relini et al., 2000) and Capo Passero in southern Sicily (Mori and Vacchi, 2002). Subsequent reports from Italy include Pantelleria and western Sicily (San Vito, Capo Gallo and Ustica) (Pipitone et al., 2001), the northern and Ionian coasts of Sicily, the Tyrrhenian coast of Calabria, the islands of Ischia and Ponza, southern Sardinia, Isola delle Femmine (northwest Sicily) (Cannicci et al., 2004), the central Tyrrhenian extending from the coasts of Cilento to the Pontine Islands, and the Gulf of Naples (Russo and Villani, 2005). It was first recorded from Malta in 2001 (Borg and Attard-Montalto, 2002). Reports from Spain include Dragonera and Es Pantaleu islands southwest of Mallorca (Deudero et al., 2005). By 2004 it was found in Al Haniya, Libya (Elkrwe et al., 2008). Reports from Greece include: the Gulf of Messiniakos, Crete, Antikythira and Rhodes Islands (Cannicci et al., 2006; Thessalou-Legaki et al., 2006). Reports from Turkey include Uc Adalar and Kas-Antalya (Yokes and Galil, 2006).

Risk of Introduction

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P. gibbesi is found over a wide latitudinal and temperature range extending from California to Chile, Florida to Brazil, and Portugal to the Gulf of Guinea (Manning and Holthuis, 1981; d’Udekem d’Acoz, 1999). The proposed mechanisms for the introduction and spread of P. gibbesi in the Mediterranean are larval transport by surface currents (Pipitone et al., 2001), and shipping (Galil et al., 2002). There is little data to support the plausibility of coastal adjective transport, beyond the crab’s long larval life span (up to 6 weeks). P. gibbesi inhabits a narrow subtidal zone (commonly at depths of 1-2 m). The crab’s life history characteristics: crevicolous habits and preferred habitat position itas a likely candidate for successful primary and secondary ship-borne transport (Coutts et al., 2003). The occurrence of P. gibbesi in the Balearic Islands, the Sicilian archipelago, Sardinia, the Parthenopean Islands, the Amalfitan coast, the little frequented island of Antikythira, and lately along the touristic Kas peninsula and Antalya, possibly points to the role of recreational vessels as vectors. P. gibbesi is found in shallow rocky habitats where it finds safety under boulders and in narrow crevices (Pipitone et al., 2001; Russo and Villani, 2005). The “… high affinity of this species for boulders” (Deudero et al., 2005), favours colonization of harbour breakwaters. Enclosed marinas have been shown to increase the chances of transport of alien species that occur in the harbour basin (Floerl and Inglis, 2003), and only a few ovigerous females may be needed to establish a viable population and expand its range. Further invasions are therefore likely.

Habitat

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P. gibbesi inhabits a narrow subtidal zone (commonly at depths of 0-2 m), in rocky habitats where it moves to safety under boulders and in narrow crevices.
 

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Littoral
Intertidal zone Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Marine
 
Inshore marine Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

P. gibbesi was included in Schubart et al's (2000) study on the use of the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene for phylogenetic and populations studies of Crustacea.

Reproductive Biology

Female P. gibbesi reach sexual maturity at a carapace length of 15.0-16.0 mm, the smallest ovigerous female sampled was 16.1 mm. Ovigerous females occur between the end of May and September; most mature females collected from July to October carried eggs, whereas nearly all the mature females collected between November and March were not ovigerous. Brood size ranged from 254 eggs to nearly 32,000 eggs in largest egg mass, brood size is correlated with carapace size. Juveniles < 15 mm) were first observed at the end of September and throughout the winter until March (Sciberras and Schembri, 2008). Off West Africa ovigerous females have been collected in February, March, April and August (Manning and Holthuis, 1981). 

Nutrition

P. gibbesi were observed in the field to use their chelipeds to scoop biofilm or detritus from the surfaces of boulders; they also use their chelae to either grasp pieces of macroalgae that floated past in the water - when these came within grasping distance - or to tear off pieces of macroalgae attached to boulders. P. gibbesi were observed to feed on the following algae: Stypocaulon (Halopteris) scoparium, Hypnea musciformis, Liagora viscida, Gelidium crinale, Sphacelaria sp., Caulerpa racemosa, Jania rubens, Padina pavonica and Dictyopteris polypodioides. On one occasion, a large male was observed to emerge from its shelter and grasp a jellyfish and drag it back into its shelter where it presumably consumed it (Sciberras and Schembri, 2008). Analysis of stomach contents revealed that algae formed most of the biomass, composed of almost equal parts of filamentous algae, calcareous algae and corticated macrophytes, and a smaller amount of foliose algae (Puccio et al., 2006). However, Deudero et al. (2005) reported opportunistic feeding on algae, pagurids and polychaetes and stomach content analyses of P. gibbesi from northwest Sicily showed that gastropod and crustaceans constituted a significant part of the stomach contents (Cannicci et al., 2004). This flexibility in feeding may have facilitated the spread of P. gibbesi in the Mediterranean.

Associations

P. gibbesi was observed to overlap in the shallow rocky intertidal zone with the native grapsid, Pachygrapsus marmoratus, and to a lesser degree with the native xanthid, Eriphia verrucosa (Sciberras and Schembri, 2008).

Environmental Requirements

P. gibbesi tolerates a wide range of water temperatures from 16-31ºC; however, prefers 20-26ºC. 

 

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
25 25 0 0

Water Tolerances

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ParameterMinimum ValueMaximum ValueTypical ValueStatusLife StageNotes
Depth (m b.s.l.) Optimum 0-30 tolerated
Salinity (part per thousand) Optimum 34-39.5 tolerated
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 20 26 Optimum 16-31 tolerated

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)

Pipitone et al. (2001) and Abelló et al. (2003) suggested larvae of P. gibbesi have entered the Mediterranean with the Atlantic currents and spread by surface currents. These currents sweep eastwards along the southern Mediterranean coast.

Accidental Introduction

The life history characteristics of P. gibbesi: its crevicolous habits and preferred habitat position, its recent records in or near ports and marinas, its very rapid dispersal across the Mediterranean, and its presence in the Balearic Islands, the Sicilian archipelago, Sardinia, the Partenopean Islands, the Amalfitan coast, the little frequented island of Antikythira, and along the touristic Kas peninsula and Antalya, possibly points to the role of fishing and recreational vessels as vectors (Yokes and Galil, 2006).

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Ship hull foulingadult Yes Yes Cannicci et al., 2006

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Biodiversity

P. gibbesi and Pachygrapsus marmoratus have been considered potential competitors for space (Sciberras and Schembri, 2008) - and according to Müller (2001) for food - since the two species have been observed to occur in close proximity. Laboratory experiments indicate that when competing for space, P. marmoratus dominates the interactions with P. gibbesi and is thus unlikely to be excluded from its natural habitat by P. gibbesi.

Risk and Impact Factors

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  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
Impact mechanisms
  • Herbivory/grazing/browsing
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult/costly to control

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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P. gibbesi is distinguished by its thin, disc-like carapace, front deeply cut by antennular clefts and anteriorly spinose meri of walking legs.

Prevention and Control

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Prevention

As P. gibbesimay be transported in shipping, efforts should be concentrated on fouling and ballast control.

Control

Physical/mechanical control

No information is available on any physical/mechanicalcontrol methods attempted on this species.

Biological control

No information is available on any biological control methods attempted on this species.

References

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Abelló P; Visauta E; Bucci A; Demestre M, 2003. [English title not available]. (Noves dades sobre l'expansió del cranc Percnon gibbesi (Brachyura: Grapsidae: Plagusiinae) a la Mediterrània occidental) Bolleti de la Societat d'Historia Natural de les Balears, 46:73-77.

Borg JJ; Attard-Montalto J, 2002. The grapsid crab Percnon gibbesi (Milne Edwards, 1853) (Crustacea, Decapoda, Brachyura), a new addition to the marine fauna of Malta. The Central Mediterranean Naturalist, 3:159-160.

Cannicci S; Badalamenti F; Milazzo M; Gomei M; Baccarella A; Vannini M, 2004. Unveiling the secrets of a successful invader: preliminary data on the biology and the ecology of the crab Percnon gibbesi (H. Milne Edwards, 1853). Rapports et Proces-Verbaux des Reunions Commission Internationale pour l'Exploration Scientifique de la Mer Méditerranée, 37:326.

Cannicci S; Garcia L; Galil BS, 2006. Racing across the Mediterranean - first record of Percnon gibbesi (Crustacea: Decapoda: Grapsidae) in Greece. Journal of the Marine Biology Association 2 - Biodiversity Records, 2006(5300):1-2. http://www.mba.ac.uk/jmba/jmba2biodiversityrecords.php?5300

Coutts ADM; Moore KM; Hewitt CL, 2003. Ships' sea-chests: an overlooked transfer mechanism for non-indigenous marine species? Marine Pollution Bulletin, 46:1504-1515.

Deudero S; Frau A; Cerda M; Hampel H, 2005. Distribution and densities of the decapod crab Percnon gibbesi, an invasive Grapsidae, in western Mediterranean waters. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 285:151-158.

d'Udekem d'Acoz C, 1999. Inventaire et distribution des crustacés decapods del'Atlantique nord-oriental, de la Méditerranée et des eaux continentals adjacentes au nord de 25°N. Patrimoines naturels (Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle,Institut d'Écologie et de Gestion de la Biodiversité et Service du Patrimoine Naturel), 40:x+383pp.

Elkrwe HM; Elhawaj HM; Galil BS; Abdallah AB, 2008. The first record of Percnon gibbesi (H. Milne Edwards, 1853) (Crustacea: Decapoda: Plagusiidae) from the southern rim of the Mediterranean. Aquatic Invasions, 3(2):243-245. http://www.aquaticinvasions.ru/2008/AI_2008_3_2_Elkrwe_etal.pdf

Floerl O; Inglis GJ, 2003. Boat harbour design can exacerbate hull fouling. Austral Ecology, 28(2):116-127.

Galil B; Froglia C; Noel P, 2002. Volume 2 Crustaceans: decapods and stomatopods. In: CIESM Atlas of Exotic Species in the Mediterranean [ed. by Briand , F] Monaco, : CIESM Publishers, 192 pp.

Garcia L; Reviriego B, 2000. [English title not available]. (Presència del cranc subtropical Percnon gibbesi (H. Milne Edwards, 1853) (Crustacea, Brachyura, Grapsidae) a les Illes Balears. Primera cita a la Mediterrania occidental) Bolleti de la Societat d'Història Natural de les Balears, 43:81-89.

Manning RB; Holthuis LB, 1981. West African Brachyuran Crabs (Crustacea, Decapoda). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, 306:1-379.

Mori M; Vacchi M, 2002. On a new occurrence of the alien flat crab, Percnon gibbesi (H. Milne Edwards), in the southern Sicily (Central Mediterranean Sea) (Crustacea, Brachyura, Grapsidae). Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale "Giacomo Doria", 114:295-302.

Müller C, 2001. [English title not available]. (Erstnachweis der Flachkrabbe Percnon gibbesi. (Crustacea: Decapoda: Grapsidae) für die Balearischen In-seln) Senckenbergiana Maritima, 31(1):83-89.

Ng PKL; Guinot D; Davie PJF, 2008. Systema Brachyurorum: Part I. An annotated checklist of extant brachyuran crabs of the world. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 17(supp):1-286.

Pipitone C; Badalamenti F; Sparrow A, 2001. Contribution to the knowledge of Percnon gibbesi (Decapoda, Grapsidae), an exotic species spreading rapidly in Sicilian waters. Crustaceana, 74(10):1009-1017.

Puccio V; Relini M; Azzurro E; Relini O, 2006. Feeding habits of Percnon gibbesi (H. Milne Edwards, 1853) in the Sicily Strait. Hydrobiologia, 557:79-84.

Relini M; Orsi L; Puccio V; Azzurro E, 2000. The exotic crab Percnon gibbesi (H. Milne Edwards, 1853) (Decapoda, Grapsidae) in the central Mediterranean. Scientia Marina, 64(3):337-340.

Russo GF; Villani G, 2005. Spreading of the allochthonous species Percnon gibbesi in the central Tyrrhenian Sea. Biologia Marina Mediterranea, 12(1):329-330.

Schubart CD; Neigel JE; Felder DL, 2000. Use of the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene for phylogenetic and population studies of Crustacea. Crustac. Issues, 12:817-830.

Sciberras M; Schembri PJ, 2008. Biology and interspecific interactions of the alien crab Percnon gibbesi in the Maltese Islands. Marine Biology Research, 4(5):321-332. http://www.tandf.no/marinebiology

Thessalou-Legaki M; Zenetos A; Kambouroglou V; Corsini-Foka M; Kouraklis P; Dounas C; Nicolaidou A, 2006. The establishment of the invasive crab Percnon gibbesi (H. Milne Edwards, 1853) (Crustacea: Decapoda: Grapsidae) in Greek waters. Aquatic Invasions, 1(3):133-136.

Williams AB, 1965. Marine Decapod Crustaceans of the Carolinas. Fishery Bulletin, US Fish and Wildlife Service, 65(1):xi+298pp.

Yokes B; Galil BS, 2006. Touchdown - first record of Percnon gibbesi (H. Milne Edwards, 1853) (Crustacea: Decapoda: Grapsidae) along the Levant coast. Aquatic Invasions, 1(3):130-132.

Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS)http://griis.org/Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Organizations

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Europe: DAISIE - Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe, Web-based service, http://www.europe-aliens.org

Contributors

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06/07/09 Original text by:

Bella Galil, National Institute of Oceanography, Israel Oceanographic &, Limnological Research, Israel

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